A Legacy of Innovation
The origins of ARCA-SWISS, founded by Alfred Oschwald in Zurich, Switzerland, began in 1926. Deeply rooted in the Swiss tradition of exceptional quality and highly skilled craftsmanship, Alfred Oschwald & Company initially emerged as a renowned camera repair business.
Following World War II, Alfred Oschwald Sr. and his son, Max, teamed up with Karl Koch from Sinar to manufacture the Sinar Norma. Later, Karl Koch sought Max's expertise to create the first "behind-the-lens" Sinar shutter, a feature that became essential in subsequent Sinar camera models.
Another Oschwald son, Alfred Oschwald Jr., headed a trading company in Zurich representing Plaubel cameras, and worked with Plaubel to design the first 6x9 cm view camera on an optical rail.
In the early 1950's, a new company was formed and named Oschwald Brothers. Together, the brothers embarked on a mission to design and produce professional monorail cameras of unparalleled quality and versatility. The Oschwald's new line of "all-around cameras" branded as ARCA, quickly earned recognition for exceptional handling in practical situations. The Oschwald Brothers company was subsequently rebranded as ARCA-SWISS.
A Visionary Takes The Helm
In the early 1980s, Philippe Vogt, a visionary Swiss product designer and avid photographer, joined the Oschwald's ARCA-SWISS company. In 1984, following the decision of the Oschwald brothers to retire and sell their assets, Philippe Vogt stepped into the leadership role at ARCA-SWISS. This event marked a significant milestone in the company's history.
Under Vogt's stewardship, ARCA-SWISS entered a new age of innovation, beginning with an extensive redesign and overhaul of its entire product line. Collaborating closely with his team and later, with his sons Martin and Samuel, Philippe Vogt introduced innovative solutions that were both technologically superior and user-friendly. The highly regarded F-Line and M-Line camera systems, the monoball® B and the remarkable C1 Cube, further established ARCA-SWISS as a pioneer in the field of photography.
During this era, ARCA-SWISS underwent a significant transformation in their manufacturing facilities, transitioning from conventional mechanical milling machinery to state-of-the-art CNC milling machines.
This modernization was instrumental in allowing ARCA-SWISS to achieve higher levels of precision and accuracy in their manufacturing process, building cameras with higher precision, tighter tolerances, and smoother operation. The adoption of CNC technology marked a pivotal moment in the history of ARCA-SWISS, enhancing the ability to manufacture products renowned for their exceptional quality.
Embracing New Horizons
In 1999, under the leadership of Philippe Vogt, ARCA-SWISS relocated the corporation's headquarters from Zurich, Switzerland to Besançon, France, near the heart of the European center of micro-techniques.
Vogt's strategic move was aimed at leveraging the benefits and opportunities provided by the European Common Market to remove technical, legal and bureaucratic barriers that hindered free trade and movement. As a result, ARCA-SWISS witnessed significant growth, stabilized pricing and an expanded global footprint, reaching photographers worldwide.
Over the years, ARCA-SWISS has become a leading provider of cameras and tripod heads, earning the trust and recognition of professional photographers worldwide.
We're honored to support the exacting standards of the world's leading photographers with our innovative solutions. Our products are manufactured and assembled by hand at the main factory in Ecole Valentin, near Besançon, France.
To this day, ARCA-SWISS continues its unwavering dedication to craftsmanship and innovation.